Posted by: Jennifer | July 5, 2009

For Sale: Canada’s history

Library and Archives Canada is a government-funded and run agency that is responsible for documenting the history of Canada, through books and videos and photographs — pretty much any medium known to man. It’s the Canadian version of the Library of Congress. And apparently it has no money to buy any more books:

A moratorium on buying new materials at Library and Archives Canada has some people wondering whether important cultural and historical documents could be lost to the country.

On May 19, an e-mail went out from Library and Archives informing its suppliers of an immediate halt to paid acquisitions as part of a review of policies by the new senior managers. It was a move that has shocked some librarians and archivists.

“It’s just not done. It’s just silly. It’s like cutting the oxygen off,” said Michel Brisebois, former curator of rare books at Library and Archives. “That’s not acceptable for a national library.”

[…]Library and Archives Canada receives copies of books published in Canada and has material donated. But it relies on acquisitions for things such as books written about Canada abroad.

[…]Ewens is concerned about the implications of Library and Archives no longer buying, including the possibility of rare booksellers going out of business.

“You just can’t stop preserving history,” said Ewens.

How can we expect future generations to care about the history and culture of our country if our own government doesn’t feel that they are important considerations? Hopefully enough of an uproar will be made to reverse this decision.

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